Maybe It's Your Civic Duty Not to Vote
Should Uninformed Voters Be Casting Their Vote on Nov. 4?
By JOHN STOSSEL
Oct. 9, 2008—
We keep hearing how important it is for everyone to vote and that voting is our civic duty.
Celebrities like Christina Aguilera, Leonardo DiCaprio, Diddy and Dave Matthews urge everyone to get out and vote. And to help people vote, voter registration groups such as HeadCount deploy volunteers to sign people up.
HeadCount focuses on registering young people at rock concerts and music festivals around the country. During the concerts, famous musicians such as Eddie Vedder and Jack Johnson implore their fans to sign up to vote. Marc Brownstein, the bassist for the band The Disco Biscuits and a co-founder of HeadCount, tells fans to "please participate this year by casting your vote!"
Brownstein and a friend, Andy Bernstein, co-founded HeadCount in 2004.
"We do this because we want the kids to be a part of the political process," Brownstein said.
Bernstein added, "We registered over 100,000 people. ... It is so imperative that this generation's voice is heard. And they are being heard."
But are these get-out-the-vote drives entirely a good thing? "20/20" asked some newly registered young people some basic questions about our government.
Some people were knowledgeable.
But many of the young voters didn't seem very informed. Some didn't know how many states are in the U.S. or how many senators there are. Few could explain Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling upholding abortion rights.
"Roe v. Wade is segregation maybe?" one new voter guessed.
Another asked: "Was Roe v. Wade where we declared bankruptcy?" And still another wondered, "That was about a black person and a white person?"
Brownstein said, "There's a lot of uninformed voters out there."
So should those uninformed voters just stay home?
"It's an argument that really, really smacks against everything we hold dear as Americans," Bernstein said.
"Democracy is not about taking ... the most educated portion of the society and having them decide," Brownstein said.
But could these voters' civic duty be to not vote, because they know very little?
"We don't believe it's their civic duty not to vote. We're out there telling them that it is their civic duty to vote," Brownstein said.
Read the whole thing... I love how Brownstein is pushing uninformed people to vote, but I'm sure that he's targeting people who he feels will be more inclined to vote or who will listen to not so veiled rhetoric from band leaders to "vote for change" (a refrain that I heard 20 times from lead singers at a concert event I attended recently).
In all seriousness, voting is not your civic duty - informing yourself so you are sufficiently aware of the issues (and the candidates' corresponding positions) is your civic duty.
In this regard, I'm not an elitist - and I think Stossel misses the point here. I know that the American electorate (as personified by the hipster-dufus' shown in the video) can do better and I would encourage them - if they are serious about their desire to perform their civic duty - to drop the ecstasy and the water bong *bubble bubble* 6 months to one year prior to election date and educate themselves on the issues.
I'm looking forward to Stossel's piece on the 17th.
ARC: St Wendeler